How President Biden can hit a home run
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The Washington Nationals have invited President Joe Biden to throw the ceremonial first ball on Opening Day in Washington, D.C., and this is one pitch Biden should accept.

Not only should the new president continue this longstanding tradition, but he should also invite a bipartisan group of leaders from Congress to accompany him to the game. By that time, he will have been president for at least ten weeks and, hopefully, his invitation will follow on the heels of other efforts to enhance communication, consensus and compromise.

So far, the president has issued 28 executive actions, largely ignoring Congress and governing by the stroke of his pen. The notable exception is the American Rescue Plan. It’s time for Biden to bring Congress back into the fold; he can’t, and should not, legislate from his desk alone. A visit to the Nationals’ first game with a bipartisan group from both houses of Congress would be a meaningful gesture that might just lead to some goodwill and “across the aisle” cooperation that is sorely needed right now.


William Howard Taft was the first president to throw out the inaugural pitch in Washington, in 1910. With the exception of Donald TrumpDonald TrumpDonald Trump Jr. calls Bruce Springsteen's dropped charges 'liberal privilege' Schiff sees challenges for intel committee, community in Trump's shadow McConnell says he'd back Trump as 2024 GOP nominee MORE, the American president has tossed the first pitch whenever Washington has fielded a major league franchise. Presidents Ford, Carter, Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and Clinton tossed out first balls at other parks when the game wasn’t in Washington.

Traditions are vital to our faith in the continuity of the American experiment. Many of us hope Joe Biden will restore traditions ignored by his predecessor. Opening Day offers him the opportunity to not only continue an honored tradition but establish a new one at the same time.

Whom could he invite? He could start with the leadership of Congress and perhaps some key members of their staffs.

Former U.S. Rep. Lee Hamilton (D-Ind.), who served 34 years in the House, wrote about partisanship in the Tribune-Star stating that in previous times “the question that pervaded discussions on Capitol Hill was ‘What can we do to resolve this problem?’ Members were unwilling to accept stalemate or lack of agreement.’” Today, the fine art of hammering out compromises is becoming extinct. Perhaps some of these congressional leaders could learn to be more cooperative, trusting, and civil if they spent time with one another outside the arena of battle. Politics is a human enterprise. Perhaps connecting as human beings will lead to some progress. Not instantly, but over time.

President BidenJoe BidenBiden 'disappointed' in Senate parliamentarian ruling but 'respects' decision Taylor Swift celebrates House passage of Equality Act Donald Trump Jr. calls Bruce Springsteen's dropped charges 'liberal privilege' MORE is a man of humility, harmony, and humanity. His staff must ensure he meets regularly with congressional leaders so he can showcase his trust, decency and grit, and perhaps sand down some of the edges that currently exist.


Despite the media’s constant focus on party divisions in Congress and on the extremists who fan the flames of conflict, it’s important to recall that members of opposing parties can be friends. Rep. Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by The AIDS Institute - Ahead: One-shot vax, easing restrictions, fiscal help The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - J&J A-OK, Tanden in Trouble Feehery: How Republicans can win by focusing on schools MORE, a longtime Republican friend of former Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Donna BrazileDonna Lease BrazileHow President Biden can hit a home run Scalise bringing Donna Brazile as guest to Biden inauguration Harris selects Tina Flournoy as chief of staff: report MORE, invited her to be his guest at Biden's inauguration. Scalise told The Advocate, “I thought it would be a good show of unity. It's important we all focus on trying to bring the country back together.” Late Supreme Court justices Ruth Bader GinsburgRuth Bader GinsburgMcConnell backs Garland for attorney general A powerful tool to take on the Supreme Court — if Democrats use it right Fauci says he was nervous about catching COVID-19 in Trump White House MORE and Antonin Scalia also maintained a close friendship despite their opposing judicial views. President Reagan and House Speaker Tip O’Neill (D-Mass.) battled during the day but often got together after work to have a drink and talk. Sens. Joe Biden (D-Del.) and John McCainJohn Sidney McCainCindy McCain planning 'intimate memoir' of life with John McCain Trump-McConnell rift divides GOP donors Arkansas state senator says he's leaving Republican Party MORE (R-Ariz.) were good friends, as were Sens. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchHow President Biden can hit a home run Mellman: What happened after Ginsburg? Bottom line MORE (R-Utah). And let’s not forget Sens. Sam Nunn (D-Ga.) and Dick Lugar (R-Ind.). All of these “odd couples” could disagree mightily yet were united toward a higher purpose.

Today it’s President Biden’s turn. At his inauguration, Biden told the nation, “My whole soul is in this: bringing America together, uniting our people, uniting our nation.”

It’s time for him to step up to the plate and seize every opportunity to build consensus and mend the ill will that divides us.

Ritch K. Eich, former chief of public affairs for Blue Shield of California, has published five books on leadership. A retired captain in the naval reserve, he served on congressional committees for Sens. Carl LevinCarl Milton LevinHow President Biden can hit a home run McConnell and Schumer need to make the most of this moment Progressives offer mixed messages on key Biden economic aide MORE of Michigan and Dan CoatsDaniel (Dan) Ray CoatsHow President Biden can hit a home run Former Trump intel chief Coats introduces Biden nominee Haines at hearing Senate Intelligence Committee leaders warn of Chinese threats to national security MORE of Indiana. He holds a Ph.D from the University of Michigan.